|STOKE CITY have been in a better place than they are today and not many people are predicting they will win promotion from the Championship in 2022-23. The “experts” believe Stoke will finish just above mid-table, which will be progress on the past four seasons and the best placing since they were relegated from the Premier League in 2018. |
The current campaign will be their fifth since then, there is a danger they are getting too comfortable at that level. The pandemic hasn’t helped them, but then it has been a struggle for many Championship clubs given the trend of the second-tier clubs paying far too much out in wages in a bid to win a place in the promised land of the Premier. Stoke, in 2020-21, saw their wage-to-income ratio jump to 119%, their second successive season when player expenses went above 100%. Again, the pandemic has to be considered, but it underlines the precarious nature of football club finance.
Despite having one of the Championship’s highest wage bills, Stoke were 14th in 2021-22 and 2020-21. In their four Championship seasons since relegation, they have never finished higher and have seldom looked like promotion candidates.
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NEWCASTLE UNITED are no longer in the relegation zone and will be in the Premier League in 2022-23. The takeover of the club in October 2021 was greeted with near-hysteria in the city on the Tyne, and the hope among their long-suffering fans is that they will become the next emerging power in English and European football.
Newcastle have been a great club in the past, but their recent record is modest to say the least. Their last domestic honour was won in 1955, their last piece of serious silverware in 1969, a wonderful trophy from a competition that no longer exists.
If there is a club that is indelibly linked to a city and region, it is surely Newcastle United. Although the club’s new owners have not been universally welcomed into English football, there is no doubt that the resources provided by Saudi Arabia should elevate Newcastle and give them their best hope of winning a major prize. The story is likely to be rocky, but in 2022-23, there will no more interesting place to be.
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